SMS Sales Training Multiplies Sales

Inward Sorter or Outward Sorter?

Double Your Sales - Regulated or Not

A couple of decades ago, an American airline was facing high staff turnover and a huge level of complaints, as well as falling passenger numbers; not enough to cause complete failure, but enough to hurt cashflow and the operating margin.

The new CEO ordered for some root cause analysis of the complaints in an attempt to identify the key elements that people were complaining about so that some measures could be considered to rectify any obvious issues.

The findings were shocking and worrying for a service industry. Over 82% of complaints were about the cabin crew’s attitude or manners. B2C or retail sales is highly sensitive and can trend with some bad reviews on social media, high profile complaints or other customer led rebellion.

Obviously B2B sales, online b2b commerce or other b2b marketing should be handled differently, but there are similarities in the great scheme of things.

Engaging a consultancy who recommended the use of psychology specialists, they formulated a plan to make all the cabin crew, including pilots and co-pilots to re-apply for their jobs. Part of the reapplication was to involve a presentation to the group from each member of staff, and the session would be video recorded to be analysed and scrutinised after the event.

Several video cameras were set up in the room facing in different directions, and the consultants explained this was to help gauge the responses to the presentations and identify elements that were being learned from the talk. This would then feed into the overall score.

What they didn’t tell the applicants was that the presentation was immaterial and that they were videoing the audience to discover who was an inward and who was an outward sorter.

Inward? Outward? What’s that?
When staff members were giving a presentation, the consultancy watched the audience. This who for the majority of time sat up and took notice of the speaker, interested in the subject matte, supportive and empathetic, were outward sorters. Those who sneaked looks at their text messages (it was the early 2000’s), daydreamed, or fidgeted with diaries, planners, doodles or were just plain not interested for most of the times were inward sorters.

We are all majorly one or the other.

For service industries you want people who engage, listen, are empathetic and/or supportive. They ask concerned questions and overly try to please their audience. They are of a mind to sort out problems in others to provide comfort and satisfaction.

Inward sorters are more concerned with fulfilling their contract requirements, avoiding issues and shutting them down as soon as possible. Box ticking becomes a subjective art form for them and compliance is when the customer does as directed and doesn’t argue. They care nothing for the customer journey experience and often see customers as a disruptive and necessary evil that has to be controlled or endured. Inward sorters will, in many cases, blame others or processes/systems for not being able to do their job properly. Look out for it in office chat and staff appraisals, if you still run these periodically.

Both of these types of people have value in the organisation, but you want outward sorters on the sharp end, the customer facing element of your business.

As Jim Collins, author of “Good to great” said, once you have the right people on the bus, you have to get them sitting in the right seat.

Our SMS program helps you identify and recruit the right people for the right job. We don’t try to make a purse from a sow’s ear, we will tell you the problems that you face and need to fix, to drive your sales further forward. We also do away with staff appraisals and show you how to deal with issues daily or weekly, not wait for 6 or 12 months later, when the damage has been done (and often forgotten).

Incidentally, once the airline exercise was over, staff turnover more than halved in the next 12 months, complaints fell and due to some incentive programs and other marketing tricks, customer numbers exceeded the projected requirements and continued to improve.

There is another problem with people involving sameness and exceptions, but that’s a story for another post.

Double Your Sales - Regulated or Not